Who Goes to Summer Camp?


PHOTO: Flickr/huffstutterrobertl

You might have read about summer camp in picture or chapter books. Books and movies about camp often show children riding horses and swimming in lakes. At night, they sing around campfires and sleep in tents or cabins. Books and movies might make it seem like most kids go to summer camp, but that isn’t true, especially in the western part of the country.

There are only about 7,000 resident, or sleep-away, camps in the entire United States, compared to about 107,000 schools. Most sleep-away camps are in the middle and eastern part of the country. They are expensive, costing on average over $500 per week.

There are more sleep-away camps than day camps, according to the American Camp Association (ACA). At day camps, children go home at night. Day camps are cheaper than sleep-away camps. Even though day camps cost less, most children in the United States do not go to camp of any kind.

Based on data from the Harvard Family Research Project, about one in 10 children go to summer camp, and even fewer stay overnight. The researchers say kids from families with higher income are more likely to go to camp than lower income kids. In fact, higher income kids are far more likely to take part in most out-of-school activities like camp, lessons and sports, because these are expensive.

If you don’t go to camp, you are not alone! You are among the many millions who don’t.

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